Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.
I made these just now and they turned out pretty nicely, if I do say so myself.
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda.
2. Add the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead once or twice just to bring all the ingredients together into a ball.
3. Again, flour your surface, and a rolling pin. Roll the dough out to 1/2cm thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place a in inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375F for 10 - 12 minutes, or until barely golden around the sides. Remove to wire racks to cool. Decorate.
2 egg whites
approx. 2 cups icing sugar - more or less depending on size of whites and desired thickness of icing
In a bowl, whisk egg whites just a couple of times to relax them. Add the sugar gradually, whisking until smooth and blended (I didn't make this particular royal icing in the mixer because I didn't want to incorporate any air) and you get your desired consistency. You don't want it too stiff, but not too runny, either. Just a little thicker than runny honey - or else it'll be a pain to pipe your decorations. Divide and colour.
I used a parchment piping bag for these, but you can use a small piping bag fitted with a #1 or #2 tip.